Lightwire - South Bloc Building Hamilton
Brendan Ritchie
Brendan Ritchie
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Key principles in Lightwire’s success

Lightwire is riding a wave at the moment, and that momentum has been created through making some fundamental changes and adopting some key business principles.

We are not the first to adopt the business principles that we have, but I thought I would detail a few of them here, the ones that have really put on the after burners for us, in the hope that they are of help to someone else out there.

It is important to note that building to this point has been a steady progression, but there is no doubt that the last 6 months has seen a tectonic shift in our performance. How do I justify that statement? 

Well, there is a real sense of purpose within Lightwire at the moment, our eNPS score is sitting between 95% and 100% each month, our profitability is growing at record rates, our hires are top shelf, our people are happy and really engaging with our excellent wellbeing program, and we are seeing a great number of people grow into new roles within the company,

And the end result of all of this is extremely happy customers, which is what all of this is ultimately all about. 

The Start

About 6 months ago Andrew engaged an external consultant named Paul O’Dwyer, he runs a business called 20 Mile March and is an excellent asset to any team (highly recommend). 

Early on he ran us through a pretty basic exercise. He got us to write our names next to functions within the business that we felt we had responsibility for, not operational input, but responsibility. The result was many names on some functions, and no names on others.

Pillar 1: Create clarity around roles and responsibilities.

We have since rejigged our org chart, but it wasn’t just some mundane exercise. Because it was accompanied by scorecard reviews and clear targets, we as individual leaders were subsequently given a clear mandate to get the job done without pissing anyone else off. It has been a game changer. 

A great sign of our excellent culture throughout this process was the lack of egos on display. My title changed, others lost direct reports, but we all bought into it and got the job done.

Pillar 2: Clear definition of success.

We set our goals and worked backwards. Stating our Gross Profit (GP)/Earnings Before Interest Tax (EBIT) targets allowed us to work backwards determine required inputs. Clarity around required capacity, timelines for scaling up, staff count, etc. all became clear. 

What’s more, a spotlight was shone on data our organisation was missing as we worked backwards from our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), allowing us to rectify and improve internal reporting on KPIs.

Pillar 3: Radical candour(based on caring deeply).

Feedback is framed from the perspective of wanting to help, caring about each other’s success and an unflinching focus on the best possible outcome for our clients, but the feedback and guidance is honest. There is no place for avoiding difficult conversations.

Pillar 4: What problem are we trying to solve?

Every conversation is centred around this question. Keep focused on the problem, and make sure that solving this problem gets us closer to our stated goals.

Pillar 5: Lean experimentation.

Bullets, then cannonballs. Got a hypothesis? Great, test it, then iterate. A basic example of this is when we sent out half of a mail-out campaign in envelopes and the other half as postcards. We saw a greater conversion rate from the postcards, so we standardised on that format.

Pillar 6: Make sure we can roll back changes cost-effectively.

With so much testing going on, it is easy to get carried away, so a key question before each experiment is, “if this goes wrong/doesn’t work, what will it cost us to roll back?”

Pillar 7: Don't slow your team down.

We employed each person within our team because they are smart and driven. We make sure we are clear on our collective intent, then let everyone get the job done. Competence and clarity are key. The managers are not here to issue orders, we are here to enable others.

To finish up...

I am loving this period in my career as I am being exposed to so many new concepts and can see them playing out in a very real way as they are truly embraced by the entire team. We have stepped up our comms within Lightwire as well, which has helped create that company wide understanding of the intent behind our changes.

I am always keen to hear of others experiences in this space, so feel free to reach out for a chat if you would like to open my eyes to some related ideas.

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